The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ★★½

In adapting this pulpy bestseller Fincher gives us a pretty good example of what makes him such a proficient, commanding director, but also demonstrates how he repeatedly comes up short of true mastery and undermines his own talent. As is his custom, there is a lot of focus on getting every shot just right; on coaxing precise, measured performances from his actors; and on nailing every detail of the milieu. But then there’s also a general disinterest in the broad strokes of the film; the titular character is a cipher with elastic motivations; a backstory of Nazism remains almost wholly unexamined; there is a frankly hokey as heck substitution of English for Swedish in really illogical ways; and there’s practically an entire sequel to the main storyline crammed in at the end. I’ve never read the book, but whether what’s on the screen is a direct port of what’s on the page or not, it feels like a slavish adaptation and not an auteuristic one. The details are crisp and clear, but the gestalt is blurry and misshapen.

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